M.H. Clark and Sarah Forster Discuss Tiger Days: A Book of Feelings
Sponsored by Compendium, Inc.
The Children’s Book Review | April 12, 2019
Poet and writer, M.H. Clark, has received multiple awards, including the Washington State Book Award and two Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. Her newest book, Tiger Days, is a must-have picture book for helping young readers explore and embrace their feelings. We chatted with both M.H. Clark and Sarah Forster, the art director and designer, about this fun-to-read book and their own special feelings. You’ll be ready to express yourself by the end of this uplifting discussion … and we hope you will in the comments section below!
The Children’s Book Review: First of all, let’s talk about the soft, fuzzy black accents on the dustcover. They feel so fun to touch as I run my fingers across the tiger and the lettering. Kids will love that! Whose idea was it to add these accents?
M.H. Clark: I agree! The flocking is such a wonderful, tactile addition! This was something the design team came up with, so I’ll let Sarah tell you more about how these stripes and letters came to be.
Sarah Forster: It’s always nice to put a special touch on the cover of a picture book. I know when I was a child I loved this! For Tigers Days, I wanted to support the book’s concept of feelings and what better way to do this than a soft and fuzzy cover to touch? That landed us on using black flocking on the tiger and title.
Tiger Days delves into the world of emotions and ultimately encourages readers to feel comfortable to express themselves. Plenty of experts have discerned that a high level of emotional intelligence leads to success in many areas, including happy and healthy relationships. Was it this notion that inspired you to tackle the subject of feelings in a way that is accessible to young kids?
M.H. Clark: Thank you for this question! Yes, this notion is absolutely what inspired the book. I think that emotional intelligence fosters so many things—self-confidence, strong relationships, and a sense of resilience. As a society, we’re often focused on the so-called “brighter” side of the emotional spectrum—we’re taught to say we’re “fine” even when things aren’t fine, to seem calm even when we’re flustered, and to try to level our emotions out for the comfort of those around us. But I think there is incredible value in recognizing all the so-many ways of being and feeling that there really are, within us, from hour to hour and day to day. We aren’t one-dimensional, static beings—children especially! It’s my hope that the animals in this book become points of reference—a concrete set of tools to help young readers feel, name, and recognize their emotions, and express them, too.
Using animals to draw parallels to certain emotions and the way these feelings can make us behave is incredibly kid friendly. While writing the words, did your choice of animal sometimes dictate how you wanted to convey a particular feeling? Or did the feelings dictate the animals you chose to feature?
M.H. Clark: I love this question! I think the inspiration came in both ways—sometimes the animal came first, and other times, the emotion steered. There were certain cases where I knew, right away, that a particular animal needed to be part of the menagerie—the bull, for example, really wanted to appear! In other cases, I had an emotion I wanted to work towards, and the animal followed once the feeling arrived.
Sarah Forster: M.H. Clark really did a wonderful job creating text children will find inviting. The animals she chose are all great examples to explain these emotions.
Based on how you are feeling today, which animal can you most relate to?
M.H. Clark: Today has been sort of a mash-up! I think many of us can relate to feeling like more than one animal from day to day. The morning was very much a snail kind of morning (not that unusual for me—I’m not a morning person!) and the afternoon unfolded in a rabbity direction. I’m channeling that enthusiasm into two particular creative projects, and also… my laundry.
Sarah Forster: Ha ha! The parrot! I’ve been meeting with and talking to lots of people while I’ve been out and about today. It’s also sunny, so I am feeling bright and chatty. Talk, talk, talk and enjoying all of it!
Sarah, as the art director, what is your favorite thing about how the words and art for Tiger Days came together?
Sarah Forster: My job as the art director and designer was to support the words with visuals, bringing them to life in an engaging way. It’s such a fun process. Defining the key messages with the illustrations and typography is my favorite part. The creativity is in full force at that time and it all feels a little magical.
Can you describe your artistic process and how you collaborated with M.H. Clark, illustrator Anna Hurley, and the entire Compendium team?
Sarah Forster: We are all about collaboration at Compendium, and Tiger Days was a creative effort from the entire team. Through the many stages I was constantly bouncing ideas off the book’s editor, Ruth Austin, and my managing art director, Megan Gandt. In the beginning phases our team and M.H. Clark discussed what this book might look and feel like, as a personality so to speak. Once that was defined I found illustrator Anna Hurley. Her illustrations were fun loving and also had the timeless quality that we wanted. From there we worked closely with Anna to develop character sketches that conveyed the right mood for each animal. We found ourselves asking questions like, what would a stubborn rhino look like? Or a sad crying fish? We explored each animal’s body language, actions, and facial expressions until we got them just right. Color was the final phase, and also important! After researching color psychology I selected specific colors for each page. It was my goal for the child to not only see the emotions in the illustrations, but also feel what the colors were telling them. The lavender hue on the turtle spread feels a little timid, whereas the yellow on the monkey spread feels friendly and playful.
Beyond the playful, rhyming text and the artful illustrations, my favorite part of the book is the message that humans are not one-dimensional when it comes to feelings, and that it’s okay to feel many different ways on any given day. On that note: How do you feel about this book? How do you hope it makes young readers feel?
M.H. Clark: I’m really hopeful that this book generates lots of conversation between children, caregivers, parents, and educators! Our emotions have so much to teach us about our needs, boundaries, and experiences of the world—perhaps especially our senses of anger, frustration, and sadness. I hope that young readers feel that this book opens up space—within their families, classrooms, and themselves— to understand and express their emotions. I would love for young readers to feel, after encountering this book that they are safe to express whatever their truth is, and to trust that the adults who are reading this book along with them will support them in this.
Sarah Forster: I feel excited about this book. I hope it becomes a new tool for parents or teachers to use to help kids understand themselves more. And I want our young readers to feel secure expressing their range of emotions.
What has been the best reaction from a reader, so far?
M.H. Clark: The best reaction is definitely the one from the five-year-old reader who said his takeaway was that “if you feel all these feelings, that’s okay.” YES. Exactly that!
Sarah Forster: I am hearing great feedback about kids loving all the cute and fun animals!
Last time we chatted, M.H. Clark, you had been rereading Diane Ackerman’s book A Natural History of the Senses—which you said you have read too many times to count! What are you reading now? And how about you, Sarah?
M.H. Clark: Right now, I’m reading Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland, which is an incredible book about art making, creativity, and how to continue. I cannot recommend it highly enough!
Sarah Forster: I love A Natural History of the Senses! Right now I am reading Calypso by David Sedaris, he is a big favorite of mine. I find all of his books very entertaining. I am also reading Total Cat Mojo by Jackson Galaxy, because I’m a cat mom of two and need to understand the emotions of my fur babies. It’s really a fantastic and educational read if you have a cat!
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about Tiger Days, your writing, your artwork, or yourselves?
M.H. Clark: As this book has come into being, a few people have suggested animal and emotion pairings that they feel frequently, in their own daily lives. I’d love to hear more of these! Feel free to find me on Instagram @mhclarkwrites and send me a message!
Sarah Forster: I really enjoyed working on this book because I am a HUGE animal lover, and I’ve had a connection with them since I was a little girl. I had many kinds of pets growing up: rabbits, cats, dogs, parakeets, fish, horses, and even a turtle. Being a shy kid, my animals were my friends, and I could safely express any feelings I was having with them. So creating a book about animals helping children understand their emotions really hit home for me.
If your child has found the animals of Tiger Days helpful, I would love to know! You can message me on Instagram @sfcreates. (Pet photos are also accepted.)
For more information, visit: www.live-inspired.com
Written by M.H. Clark
Illustrated by Anna Hurley
Publisher’s Synopsis: From tiger fierce to snail slow, there are lots of ways to feel and be. A walk through the menagerie of Tiger Days helps young readers see all the feelings they have and the ways those feelings change.
Through playful rhymes and colorful illustrations, this spirited book gives children new tools to understand the range of their emotions and express themselves to family, teachers, friends, and themselves. Tiger Days was written by M.H. Clark, bestselling author of You Belong Here and Tiny, Perfect Things.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Compendium Inc | February 5, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1946873415
Enter to win a M.H. Clark book set!
One (1) grand prize winner receives:
- A signed copy of Tiger Days:A Book of Feelings
- A signed copy of Tiny, Perfect Things
- A signed copy of the award–winning bedtime story, You Belong Here
- A signed copy of the bestselling And Then… story starters
- A signed copy of M.H. Clark’s latest kids’ activity book, Superpowers!
Four (4) winners receive:
- A signed copy of Tiger Days:A Book of Feelings
Giveaway begins April 12, 2019, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends May 12, 2019, at 11:59 P.M. MT.
How To Enter
- Complete the entry form below.
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- One (1) grand prize winner receives:
- Four (4) winners receive:
- A signed copy of Tiger Days:A Book of Feelings
- Odds of winning will depend upon the total number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
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- Prizes courtesy of Compendium, Inc.
Sponsored by Compendium, Inc., this interview—M.H. Clark and Sarah Forster Discuss Tiger Days: A Book of Feelings—was conducted between M.H. Clark, Sarah Forster, and Bianca Schulze. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Emotional Intelligence, Feelings, M.H. Clark, Picture Book, and Social-Emotional.